Just offering sarcasm, information and insight.
What are you learning? Dr. Turner is challenging me again. My brain cells resemble scramble eggs. Actually, I want to shrug my shoulders and ignore his question.
Regardless, I have to come up with an answer. God, I love Turner’s approach to mentoring. I can always count on his barrage of questions. Finally, I have something that may get me of his line of sight. Among the issues I struggle with, is how to manage my time in the most appropriate way.
Speaking of time, where did it all go? Why do the weekends fly by and workweek drag along? Sometimes I just want to catch my breath. We enjoy each occasion with loved ones and do not keep track of time.
How did I lose track of so much time? This year, I am entering the autumn of my life. Middle Age is a bitter pill to swallow. I no longer have my teenage metabolism or energy. Retirement from the workplace is a pipe dream. There is never enough time for friends, family or work.
Ironically, I do not need a course in time management. As it turns out, my ability to focus on tasks is improving. We all are constantly juggling several items personally and professionally. Sometimes, I wonder what am I accomplishing with all this multitasking? Time will not allow me to complete one task anytime any longer. Speaking of work, the current economy is demanding so much from everyone.
The current economic climate will demand an intellectual dexterity and professional flexibility to survive. The week involves so much drudgery. The most fortunate professional will find fulfillment and productivity. The rest of the workforce deals with frustration and insecurity. There are individuals doing the work of two people.This is life in cubicle nation.
The struggle in the office is between boredom and burning out. Regardless of where people are, time can drag ever so slowly until Friday. Regardless, we review the To Do list and get things done. There is nothing like the smell of doom during the morning commute.
This effort is about making life work. For some people, it is a matter of survival. The most astonishing thing I have noticed is how resourceful individuals are in hustling to make ends meet. Tomorrow is not promise to anyone. Yet, we cannot move forward by staring at the clock for too long. Making life work is about not taking anything for granted, one moment at a time.
What do most people think about the writing process? Most people probably have preconceived image of writers. The most common stereotype is someone slaving away at a secluded desk or office. This poor soul is all alone typing frantically on a keyboard. If this poor scribe does not meet their deadline, civilization will come to an end.
Writers do not work in complete isolation. The most important relationship a writer has is with their editor. Scott Stossel explores this in his review of Good Prose by Richard Todd and Tracy Kidder in The Wall Street Journal.
Good Prose describes the interaction of a Pulitzer Prize winning writer and his longtime editor. When Kidder met Todd, he was a young editor at the Atlantic Monthly. Kidder struggled with his first piece for this publication.
Initially Todd’s boss, Robert Manning did not think Kidder had any writing talent. Fortunately, Todd did not tell Kidder Manning’s opinion. The combination of Kidder’s drive and Todd’s craftsmanship paid off. The magazine published the article. In time, Kidder wrote more articles and develops a respectable body of work. Good Prose also provides advice regarding different styles of writing from reporting to a memoir.
As an aspiring writer, I realize how fortunate I am to have editors that will work with me. Writers and editors can usually forge a productive relationship. In other settings (such as work), the interaction between writer and editor is contentious. There is nothing liking spending a weekend responding to a supervisor’s track changes.
Sometimes, you can take your good fortunate for granted. It seems I have a committee of writers and editors that are supporting my work. Thank you so much to Michael Smith, Betsy Herman, Yelena Shine Boyd, Vickie Brill, Edith Lazenby and Irina Kebreau. There are so many guiding hands and each offer their own insight. The committee will continue to grow. The pay is low but the investment in my prose is worthwhile.
Dancers and actors have the stage. Painters have a canvas. The start of each post, I stare at a blank page in Microsoft Word. God indeed must have a sense of humor.
The New Year offers opportunities. Naturally, I want to review last year’s work to make progress. I will not bore you with statistics produced by the fine people at WordPress. Data can provide very important objective feedback. However, I like to ask for advice and review the numbers together.
There are so many writers that are willing to provide insight. Fortunately, I can always count on Michael Smith for his opinion. Smith is the author of Prana Journal.
Prana Journal provides a local perspective regarding the national yoga scene. Smith has covered yoga for several years. He is a writer, editor, web developer and communications specialist.
Recently, I asked for his guidance regarding my future as a writer. During my initial e-mail, I mentioned my hope of seeing my work in The Washington Post. As always, Michael offers a more realistic approach.
“I suggest you explore writing for City Paper or DCIST,” said Smith. “You need to build up a portfolio, raise a profile and developed a voice. Once you’ve gained their attention, they’ll accept your material” he said. “In a sense, you have to want to write for writing’s sake, not to get an article in the Post. You have to be passionate about what you’re writing about!”
Sometimes, I have to allow my mind to churn over someone’s feedback. Michael’s advice is very sensible. Furthermore, it raises important questions. What am I passionate about? How can I find my voice?
I have to start with the definition of a developed voice. The writer with a mature voice has identified a set of issues that they have a strong opinion on and can convey them clearly. This is the clearest definition that emerges from the Internet. Where do I go from here?
The brainstorming process starts with the elimination of the obvious. In other words, are the stories that I do not want to write about or cover? Politics is very important, but I am indifferent. There is no way I can cover sports. I want to enjoy the game and not write about the activity. Pop culture is a waste of my time and brain cells.
In reviewing past work, I discovered some of my interests. There is a strong interest in culture, literature, writing, music and writing. Above all, I care about issues every day issues that affect everyone in one way or another. There is strong interest in covering issues for the community. The community usually revolves around a certain activity (yoga, blogging, reading or writing) and not geography.
This is an important step in the journey. Does this mean I will become a full-time pundit or freelance writer? I am not holding my breath. Michael’s message serves an important reminder on the importance of the craft. This process involves establishing a foundation. This means I must carefully build toward the future gradually over time.
If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.
This is the month, and this the happy morn,
Wherein the Son of Heaven’s eternal King,
Of wedded Maid and Virgin Mother born,
Our great redemption from above did bring;
For so the holy sages once did sing,
That He our deadly forfeit should release,
And with His Father work us a perpetual peace
by John Milton.